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A ranger character from indie strategy game
Battle for Wesnoth
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A Ranger (also known as Hunter, Archer, Scout, or Tracker) is an archetype found in works of fantasy fiction and role-playing games.

Rangers are usually associated with the wisdom of nature. Rangers tend to be wise, hardy, cunning, and perceptive in addition to being skilled woodsmen. Many are skilled in woodcraft, stealth, wilderness survival, beast-mastery, herbalism, tracking, and sometimes "nature magic" or have a resistance to magic. Rangers spend a great deal of time hunting, fishing, and camping—whether on a short- or long-term basis—and their preferred martial arts weapons leans towards practical-utility: archery, knife fighting, stick-fighting, axeplay, spearplay and swordplay.

Ranger archetype

Rangers skills in books and games can include and are not limited to:

  • Combat expertise with bows and other ranged weapons, often the result of years hunting wild animals
  • Use in martial combat weapons, often swords, axes, and daggers; often times they may dual-wield such weapons and rely on finesse over brute strength
  • Throwing knives
  • Non-magical stealth
  • Climbing
  • Detecting or laying traps
  • Taming, calming or charming animals; often they may be accompanied by a favored animal companion
  • Tracking and leaving no trail to be tracked
  • Knowledge of herbs for medical and poisonous uses
  • The art of healing (magical or medical) due to their self-reliance
  • Land and nature related magic and enchantments or the ability to recognize them or resistance to them
  • Ability to move quickly through any terrain they are familiar with

Ranger in Dungeons and Dragons

In Dungeons & Dragons, rangers typically worship a nature god or goddess, and they take a role similar to druids by protecting nature and slaying foul creatures. Rangers gain offensive bonuses against certain creatures through the choosing of a "Favored Enemy" (such as giants, dragons or undead). They may also gain defensive bonuses within certain terrains through the choosing of a "Favored Environment" (such as Desert, Forest or Urban) that stacks with their "Favored Enemy"; this further illustrates their cunning. In addition, rangers have access to divine magic and an animal companion to aid them in battle.

Rangers tend to prefer the company of fellow rangers, and they are extensively trained. However, good rangers will often act as the guardians of others - whether appreciated or not - by repelling "evil" forces and protecting the weak.

Some noteworthy fictional rangers are Drizzt Do'Urden and Hank in the Dungeons and Dragons animated television series.

Ranger in Final Fantasy

Rangers have appeared as in various Final Fantasy games, including the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI. Rangers have also appeared in one form or another in other Final Fantasy games often called Archer or Hunter. In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Hunter is an upgraded class of the basic class, Archer.

Rangers in Guild Wars 2

Rangers in Guild Wars are sleek looking individuals who primarily use bows, but are allowed to use some of the game's other weapons such as swords, axes, and spears. Rangers can tame pets, summon nature spirits, set traps, command beasts, use a variety of combat "stances" to evade attacks or run faster, and use powerful marksmanship skills. Human Rangers will typically worship Melandru, the Goddess of Earth and Nature, while Norn Rangers (and Norn in general) pay homage to animal spirits. Rangers wear medium armor (higher than Scholar classes, lower than Soldier classes). Subsequent expansions to the game added the Druid specialization (focusing on healing and player buffs) and the Soulbeast specialization (merging with their animal companion to boost their own capabilities).

In the Guild Battle portion of Guild Wars Player versus player rangers are known for their survivability and effectiveness as solo characters, often acting separately from the rest of the team, reflecting the hardy and cunning nature of a ranger.

Rangers in Dark Age of Camelot

Rangers in Dark Age of Camelot are an archer class in the realm of Hibernia. The races of Elves, Lurikeen, Celt, and Shar may become rangers. The differ from the archer class of the other realms in that they wield two weapons instead of a sword and shield, or a large spear. The weapon of choice for a Dark Age of Camelot Ranger is the Recurve Bow. Like all archers, they employ spells to augment their abilities as bowmen, and are adept at stealth.

Rangers in Fire Emblem

In Fire Emblem units of the Archer class can wield only bows, allowing them to attack most enemy units without receiving a counterattack, but at the same time preventing them from counterattacking enemies who manage to close to melee range. Hunter is a similar class with lower defensive stats, but the ability to move through forest terrain without being slowed. The Hunter's promoted form Horseman is a cavalry unit which can equip both swords and bows, making them extremely flexible; in addition they usually lack some of the normal weaknesses of mounted units, such as vulnerability to anti-cavalry weapons and inability to pass through rough terrain. In some games the Horseman class is instead known as Ranger, and can be promoted from both Mercenary (a balanced class specialising in two-handed swords) and Archer.

In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance the protagonist Ike's initial class is named Ranger, but is otherwise identical to the Mercenary class described above.

Rangers in Heroes of Might and Magic

The rangers in Heroes of Might and Magic were a ranged class (their special class ability was a slight bonus to their ranged skills). However, they were notable for not having any connection to nature, only to pathfinding, and for being an advanced class of either the barbarian or the thief (neither of which normally become rangers).

Rangers in RuneScape

Although there are not definitive classes in RuneScape, Rangers are characters who have decided to invest most of their resources in the Ranged skill and its associated equipment, increasing their ability with bows, crossbows, throwing knives, and all of the game's ranged weapons. They have none of the association to nature and animals common in other milieux, being primarily a distance attacker, though certain items allow usage of poisons. RuneScape Rangers use lighter, leather armour, placing their defensive ability somewhere between the low-armour magical classes and the high-armour melee classes. During PVP they are known to wear heavy armour helmets and leggings if their defence level allows it. A Ranger may also invest in the Mage skill so that they may use restricting spells that can hold the opponent in place while the caster uses ranged attacks from a safe distance.

Rangers in Maplestory

In Maplestory the ranger is a third advancement from the bowman base class. Rangers specialize in bows and rapid attacks in contrast to their cousin, the sniper, who specializes with crossbows and power. Although there is not a clear affinity for nature, both Rangers and Snipers can summon a silver hawk and golden eagle respectively, that can aid their caller in battle by stunning a nearby monster.

Rangers in NetHack

"Ranger" is a character class in NetHack. Rangers can become skilled or expert with many thrown or fired weapons such as spears, arrows and bows and daggers. Rangers enjoy the ability to be able to skillfully cast "Divination" spells that help them discover monsters, identify objects, map areas, etc. Orcs, Elves, Gnomes and Humans can play ranger, the alignments available to this class are neutral and chaotic.

Ranger in Dragonfable

"Ranger" is a Class in the role-playing game Dragonfable. Zhoom, the master Ranger, is the main NPC in the town the Sandsea. You must complete Zhoom's Quest, The Hard Way, to unlock the armor. The Rangers of DragonFable are described by Zhoom as moving from place to place and calling no one place home. All Rangers have different codes of honor, but they live and die by that code. Zhoom also states that, "Rangers serve no king." Rangers have an affinity for nature as well, and each have an animal that they consider a partner and seen to share a spiritual connection with. Zhoom has a PrideLord named Zixcy, but he teaches the player character Falconry after the player completes the Hudson's Hawk Quest.

In order to Level Up this Class, the player needs to give Zhoom three Ancient Treasures, which can be obtained by completing various Quests throughout the Sandsea. The Class armor consists of leather armor, leather boots, and leather gloves with cloth pants. It carries a bow and arrows, a knife, and the player's equipped weapon, which is displayed hanging from the waist of the armor. While the Ranger's default attack is Melee, most of its attacking Skills involve Ranged damage. Its Skills involve enchanting arrows to cause flashbang and poison effects, using multiple arrows to attack, and using multi-hit attacks that can involve both Melee and Ranged attacks.

Ranger in Scions of Fate

In Scions of Fate the Ranger is a slow attacking warrior that uses arrows to attack from far distances. He has relatively low health and defence ability. However he has a very high dodging ability and attack power. The class is not actually called "Ranger". The cycle goes Novice Bowman - Bowman - Silent Strider - Swift Ranger. This class can only be accessed if the Order Faction is selected.

Ranger in EverQuest

The Ranger of Norrath is a cousin of the Druid, though one that specialises in melee as opposed to magical combat. They are usually referred to as Guardians or Wardens of Nature and many have similar beliefs and principles to Druids; though as their equipment often requires repairs and periodic replacing Rangers tend to be more comfortable socially than their spell casting counterpart. They do still have a similar ability to call upon spirits (of nature) and unseen forces but it is much more limited in its power, as such they are extensively trained in many weapon types and combat abilities, usually to a far greater level of proficiency than any Druid would be expected to reach.

A Rangers combat training focuses on offensive skills, with the defensive side left to an individuals cunning and agility. Many of a Rangers spells can either be used at a distance or allow the Ranger to fight outside their opponents range, archery is one of a Rangers primary weapon skills and when mastered becomes one of the most powerful weapons available to them. Rangers can also slow movement, 'root' a target to the ground and when fighting animals make them flee in fear. They gain some of the Druid 'blast' spells and can transform into a wolf when they reach the required level of power.

While defensively limited, a Ranger does have some defensive boons including the capability to wear chain armour. Their armour class and hit points can be magically raised and they can cast a shield which harms their opponent when they strike the Ranger. In addition Rangers can reduce aggression and 'lull' creatures enough that they wouldn't attack when approached, giving enough distraction to pick groups of them off one by one. Along with the best tracking ability of any profession this means Rangers are often considered the masters of hunting, commonly taking responsibility for scouting ahead or choosing suitable 'prey' for a party.

Rangers in World of Warcraft

A Hunter is the WoW equivalent of a ranger class that has an animal companion and may employ firearms. Despite this there are actual Rangers separate in the game's lore, and in Warcraft 3, Additionally there are Dark Rangers, Rangers and Dark Rangers only wield bows in World of Wacraft's Lore, and Ingame appearances.

Rangers in The Vorydian Chronicles

Rangers are a Scout Class in the Live action role-playing game, The Vorydian Chronicles. They are more combat oriented than the other two Scout Classes, Rogue or Spy, in order to better survive the wilderness on one's own. Rangers are specialize in wooded environments, able to slip past animals and carnivorous plants unnoticed, track, camouflage one's self, and they are given the ability to dual-wield swords, in addition to the existing Scout Fighting Styles. Their combat skills are generally centered on Marksman (archery and thrown weapons) and gladiator (dual-swords), and they receive fighting style proficiencies, as well as Expert Flanking proficiencies. Defensively, Rangers receive Vaea boosts to their hit points, as well as a threshold soak, up to two chosen element types to take minimal from, and immunity to a poison of choice. At the highest common rank, a Ranger may receive a Spirit Animal. Rangers may achieve any one of the Exemplar lists: Stalker, Ghost, Sniper, or Bounty Hunter.

Rangers in Ranger's Apprentice

A young adult fantasy book series based in medieval times revolves around Rangers. They are the "police" of the country and widely feared. Normal people consider them sorcerers of the black arts, but the rangers of Rangers Apprentice do not associate with magic. There are fifty active rangers in the Ranger's corps and all of them are skilled bowmen, trackers, knife fighters and throwers, and are masters in unseen and unheard movements. Only one ranger in the corps, Gilan, knows how to fight with a sword. Every ranger, and any apprentice to a ranger, has their own horse. The horse they have is specially bred and trained to travel for long distances at fast speeds. These horses all have a sort of "password" needed to ride. If a person attempts to ride on the horse and they do not know the password then the horse throws them off. This word is only needed to be spoken into the horse's ear the first time someone attempts to ride. Each certified ranger is required to protect and deal with trouble and laws in their fief, which is similar to a state. The series bases itself around a young orphan named Will who becomes apprentice to a high ranking ranger named Halt. By book five Will completes his apprenticeship and is a certified ranger and is called upon to go on missions. Most of the time on these missions he is accompanied with Horace, a knight who grew up with Will in the orphanage, and Halt.